Morning Memo: 3rd Congressional District race heating up

Posted by John Frank on April 4, 2014 

The 3rd Congressional District race between incumbent Republican Walter Jones and primary challenger Taylor Griffin is heating up.

Three headlines from the race tell the story.

Another outside group hits Jones: More outside interests are spending big money to attack U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican who faces a primary challenge from Taylor Griffin, a former George W. Bush aide. It’s no secret that Jones is a thorn in the side of House Speaker John Boehner.

The Emergency Committee for Israel is spending six-figure on an ad campaign attacking Jones for being “liberal” and his foreign policy stances, according to a report on the conservative website Breitbart. The kicker: “Once upon a time Walter Jones was right for North Carolina. But he’s changed. Isn’t it time your vote changed as well?” (See the ad at the bottom of the Memo.)

It’s the second outside group to hit Jones, who is getting support from Americans for Prosperity.

Jones takes pride in his stance: For all the flak, Walter Jones says he’s willing to pay the price for independence. Read more here.

Politico -- Taylor Griffin, the D.C. insider, tries to shed his label: But no matter how he casts himself, Griffin is an insider: He started two public relations firms in Washington, worked for the campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain and for the late Sen. Jesse Helms, a fact he does mention to show his state cred. Still, he even once bragged to a reporter that he landed his first Washington internship at a cocktail party.

His run is particularly striking in North Carolina, which has seen one of the largest booms of the tea party — where in 2010, Republicans took control of both houses for the first time since 1870.

The fact Griffin is even running is testament that in this year’s midterm election, Washington insiders who would have been scoffed at just a couple of years ago are slowly creeping back to make bids for public office. Read more here.

*** Get much more North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will travel to Duplin County today for a private tour of the Murphy Family Ventures Swine Farm Renewable Energy Project.

#NCSEN ---

TILLIS CAMPAIGN DONORS OVERLAP WITH LEGISLATIVE, SUPER PAC INTERESTS: U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis says his campaign war chest helps make him the strongest contender in a crowded Republican field.

But the more donors Tillis recruits, the more questions his rivals raise about his ties to moneyed interests – and the legislation he oversees as House speaker.

Tillis’ campaign received about $21,000 from 15 registered state lobbyists in 2013, according to a News & Observer analysis of campaign finance records – donations he couldn’t accept as a state lawmaker. ...

The second largest contributor to his campaign is EUE/Screen Gems, a movie studio company in Wilmington with credits that include “Iron Man 3”, HBO’s “Eastbound & Down” and CBS’ “Under the Dome.”

The studio is lobbying state lawmakers to extend the controversial film incentive program that awarded $77 million in tax credits to production companies in 2012. Four members of the Cooney family, which runs EUE/Screen Gems, gave Tillis’ campaign a combined $20,800, citing the state tax issue as a factor.

Two Tillis allies that he supported for election to the UNC Board of Governors donated to his super PAC in 2013 and later gave to the campaign. Read more here.

HAGAN SUPPORTS HARRY REID: In a Politico story about whether the Senate Majority leader will keep his post after the election, Hagan is quoted as saying: “Harry Reid is our leader, and I certainly do support Harry. And I have a huge race going on right now, and I will be victorious. And I will be back next year. And we can talk all about that then.” Read more here.

STORY TO WATCH --- With history made, N.C.’s young black voters may pass on 2014: From Al Jazeera America, dateline RALEIGH: In November 2008, students from two of the historically black universities here, Shaw and St. Augustine’s, were so jubilant about the election of Barack Obama that many poured forth from campus and into the streets of downtown Raleigh, reveling with the Democratic organizers who had been watching the returns from a nearby hotel.

With the first African-American president re-elected — his place in history secure — Stubbs and many of his peers are significantly less enthused about participating this year.

The 21-year-old had only a vague notion that there was an election in 2014 and no idea who was on the ballot.

“We’re on pause,” Stubbs said of how he feels about the country’s direction. “It don’t seem like it’s going in no direction right now.” Read more here.

THE BID FOR WOMEN’S VOTE -- From Bloomberg: North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan, one of the chamber’s most vulnerable incumbents on the ballot this year, said a measure strengthening rules that employers show that wage disparity is based on job performance and not gender is “certainly an issue” that would help get women to the polls.

“When you look at the number of families with women as the head of the household, it’s just incredibly important – and its time has come,” Hagan, one of four Senate Democrats seeking re-election this year in states that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won in 2012, said in an interview. Read more here.

MORE: On Pat McCrory’s comments on Tillis. Read it here.

#NCPOL ---

VOTER ID WOULDN’T STOP DOUBLE VOTING, ADVOCATES SAY: Data suggesting potential voter fraud in North Carolina’s 2012 elections still don’t justify wide-ranging and restrictive changes approved by Republicans last year that are now the focus of court challenges, voting rights advocates said Thursday.

Republican legislative leaders said Wednesday the matches prove the need for the 2013 law that made sweeping changes to voting and election laws. The most significant change requires registered voters to show photo identification before voting in person starting in 2016.

Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said the photo ID demand wouldn’t make a difference in preventing two-state voting. Speaking at a Legislative Building news conference, Earls argued that the law actually may encourage fraud by making it easier to vote by mail through absentee ballots. The law doesn’t require someone who wants to vote by mail to offer a photo ID, but rather the person must provide other identifying documents or numbers. Read more here.

KIDS ASK THE DARNDEST QUESTIONS -- AND POLITICIANS GIVE MUST-READ ANSWERS: Eight of the nine Republican candidates competing to fill U.S. Rep. Howard Coble’s seat attended a student forum – and they got some tough questions. From the News & Record:

Climate change: Former insurance agent Mike Causey cautioned that some of the articles written about climate change were written by “biased” people to make a political point.

Retired business owner Charles Sutherland was so eager to address the issue that he took time at the end of a different question to respond. “I think we’re heading into another Ice Age, not getting warmer,” Sutherland said. “We need to prepare for that.”

Gay marriage: Lana Torres, a sixth-grader, ... reiterated her support for gay marriage to Berger after the forum, and later said she was disturbed by his response.

“He talked about a man marrying a dog,” Torres said. “I found that really offensive, that he would compare gay marriage to something so offensive and outrageous.” Read more here.

QUESTIONS PLAGUE NEW COMMERCE ORGANIZATION: At a legislative hearing, questions arose about ethics, transparency and salaries.

Plenty of questions remain, however, such as how transparent the new nonprofit corporation will be as it spends taxpayers’ money, what ethical rules will govern the agency and how much to pay its staff.

Members of the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee asked those questions before unanimously approving a draft version of the bill.

After the meeting, Brown and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker separately agreed one major sticking point is the requirement that the corporation raise $10 million in private funds to pay for its operations before it even gets started. “That would slow the process,” Decker said. Read more here.

RICHARD BURR ON SENATE’S CIA REPORT: The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday voted 11-3 to recommend that key findings and a summary of its report on the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques after the Sept. 11 attacks be declassified. The White House will decide how much of the 6,300-page document will be made public.

North Carolina’s Sen. Richard Burr, a member of the committee, voted to declassify. He said Republicans were opposed to the content of the report and would write a separate reaction.

Burr explained his vote in a statement: “I voted today to declassify the report to give the American people the opportunity to make their own judgments. I am confident that they will agree that a 6,300 page report based on a cold document review, without a single interview of Intelligence Community, Executive Branch, or contract personnel involved, cannot be an accurate representation of any program, let alone this one.

His statement concluded with support for intelligence officials. A group of North Carolina religious leaders and human rights activists have been calling for public release of the report.

The groups say at least 136 people were subjected to “extraordinary rendition,” meaning forced extra-judicial transfer to third-country prisons where they were interrogated, and that many of them were transported by Aero Contractors, a CIA-affiliated company based at Johnston County Airport.

AD WAR IN N.C. HOUSE PRIMARY: From the Wilson Times -- State Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield and Democratic primary challenger Mark Bibbs are trading swipes in dueling radio commercials airing this week. ...

In a spot that began airing Tuesday, a Bibbs spokeswoman accuses Farmer-Butterfield of lying about the length of time she spent as a House majority whip.

Farmer-Butterfield said in a previous radio commercial that her colleagues had elected her House majority whip for six years. She said Tuesday that the error was inadvertent. “I made a mistake,” she said. “I’m not perfect. To me, that’s nitpicking. I think what’s more important is what I have done for the people in my district and in North Carolina. I’m not going to quibble about four years or six years. I prefer to run a campaign that’s about the issues and the work that I’ve done.” Read more here.

QUICK HEADLINES ---

DOJ panel advised overturning Deaver’s firing. Read more here.

Republicans Asciutto, Burr face off for NC House seat. Read more here.

Staff writer Renee Schoof contributed to this report.

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